The Twelve Months of Water Stories

By Lauren Contorno

Since its launch in 2010, What Our Water’s Worth (WOWW), a joint campaign of Openlands and the Metropolitan Planning Council, has brought readers the stories of real life water stewards from the Chicago and northwest Indiana region. These water champions, including notable individuals, community groups, businesses, and municipalities, have shown us that from Lake Michigan to the Fox River, how we use our water resources – including what we conserve, how much we waste, and what we choose to invest in water quality – is up to all of us.

Here are some highlights from the past two years of water stories as well as conservation tips that can help you emulate these best water conservation practices at your home or business.

Cars – and water – come out clean at King Car Wash

Picture 4 of 12

In the fourth month of water stories, WOWW gave to me…a water-conserving car wash!

In April of 2011, Frank Trilla, owner of King Car Wash in Westmont Illinois, taught us how he has been recycling water to wash cars at his business for 20 years! “We were doing it before it was cool. We were doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Trilla says of the system that recycles 10,000 gallons of water a day using soap-eating bacteria. These water-reuse technologies not only cut the business’ water bills so much that the $80,000 investment paid for itself in four years, they prevent soapy, polluted water from entering the sewer system.

Conservation tip: Wash with biodegradable soaps. Generic soaps typically don’t biodegrade and can put more strain on your community’s water treatment facility, as well as the nearby bodies of water your area’s sewage empties into.


Visit the WOWW water story archive to scroll through all of our past stories and see the WOWW factors of how much water and dollars are saved from best practices! If you have a friend who wants to learn more about what people in the region are doing to recognize the value of water, please pass along this story, have them visit the WOWW blog for more information, and encourage them to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.

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5 Responses to The Twelve Months of Water Stories

  1. paul poy says:

    thanks for the reminder through past stories and how we can adapt and practically implement to support water management for the future

  2. JJ says:

    Go Blue Island!

  3. Kevin Mercer says:

    There is no such substance on earth called eco-salts. NONE.

    The is false misinformation. All four chloride salts – calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium – were classified by the federal priority substances list of Environment Canada as major ecosystem toxic substances. Contrary to the salt industry’s propaganda, there is no such thing as ecosystem safe salt and all salt use is ecosystem accumulative and a ticking time bomb of poison building up in the ground or surface water table that cannot be removed or treated by any means other than distillation.

    The use of beet juice extracts on sodium chloride is only useful in as much as it reduces road bounce-off of rock salt spread by trucks and holds it to the road surface longer than untreated salt. However, the only reduction this offers is to the amount of salt which stays on the road after its application. In no way does beet juice additive reduce salt use per se.

    Salt use must be entirely replaced by NON-CHLORIDE anti-icing substances such as calcium magnesium acetate or sodium formate (DO NOT use urea – it is fertilizer), in addition to traction additives such as ecoTraction (DO NOT use sand – highly damaging to sewers and water courses).

    Kevin Mercer
    Managing Director, RiverSides Foundation
    Environmental Sector Delegate
    National Road Salts Risk Reduction Working Group
    Environment Canada

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